Deep Backward Point

Blog against the machine.

Tag: England

Why India Lost, in short

It’s not because of lack of passion.

It’s not because of the IPL.

It’s not because they were undercooked.

It’s not because of an underperforming spinner.

It’s not because Bell was re-called.

It’s not because of Erasmus’ umpiring.

It’s not because India missed Sehwag.

Or Zaheer.

Or Gambhir.

It is because they were outplayed. England played better cricket.

Anyone who says otherwise is trying to evade the truth. Trying to avoid accepting reality. The reality that, at the moment, England are the better team.


The Lord’s Test in Song

About 12 hours ago, I had the idea for writing a song for each Test match in the England v. India series. Kind of crazy, I know. But here is the first one.

The Lord’s Test, in song (lyrics below):

Sehwag needed surgery
but chose the Indian Premier League
Consequently Lord’s missed out
on Sehwagology

Alastair Cook failed to score
When Zak let out a great big roar
Cricketing gods took their revenge
When Zak fell in a heap

KP got out to left arm spin
I’m just kidding, no he didn’t
Praveen got a fiver and
then KP scored a double

India kept on losing wickets
Broad pitched up and got his chickens
Dravid was rock solid but the
Champions were in trouble

Second innings started well
For Ishant and his joyful hair
After lunch though, Prior grasped
the Match in England’s claws

Sachin had a nasty virus
Gambhir had his elbow smashed up
India had to bat four sessions
Escape with a draw

India kept on losing wickets
Same old story, same old chickens
England won since on the day
They were better at cricket.

One more thing, ‘fore I forget
A little thing called D R S
Must be mentioned in this song
for the English press.

How to Lose Like a Champion

In professional sport, there is only one measure of “better”– it’s not who got more points, or got more yards, or carried themselves with more dignity, or who was “winning” for the majority of the game. Ironically, being “a good sport” usually means you’re losing.

The only measure of “better” is who won. The best teams in history are known for the number in the Wins column. Cricket– and especially Test cricket– expends significant effort to obscure this fact.

So you lost. Too bad. Makes that #1 tag feel a little heavier to carry around. This is your gift. This is your curse.

Admit it, you got outplayed. However, in the grand scheme of things, it’s better to lose by being outplayed than to lose by acts of god [1]. Of course, in the grand scheme of things, it’s better to win.

But you lost.

Of course, if you’re smart and you’re good, all of this talk about winning is to your advantage. Because nobody remembers the margin of victory, as long as you win more than you lose and you win when it matters.

England were better on the day. And this is okay, as long as it’s usually qualified with “on the day”. And it will always be qualified, as long as you win more than you lose and you win when it matters.

This is how you build a dynasty.

You know this. You’re playing the long game, nine-dimensional chess. You lose when you can afford to lose, but you win when you must. You know this because this is how you got here. This is how you won the World Cup.

[1] It is also better to win by outplaying your opponent than by acts of god. Unless the gods are members of your playing eleven. Read the rest of this entry »

The Long Game

Aye, fight and you may die, run, and you’ll live… at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willing to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM!

— Mel Gibson as William Wallace in Braveheart

Shut up, William Wallace. You never played a Test series. You, Mr. Wallace, are playing Twenty20. Mahendra Singh Dhoni is playing a Test series. Mahendra Singh Dhoni is playing the long game. Read the rest of this entry »

We’re Arrogant

Dear James Lawton,

We are arrogant, but we’re not tourists. We own this place. The home of cricket? Yeah, it’s been moved. It may have once been this patch of grass on Saint John’s Wood Road in London, but these days, the home of cricket is a side-street in Ranchi that you haven’t even heard of.

Hell yeah, we’re arrogant. We were arrogant in 1981 in Australia, and not because Sunil Gavaskar walked off the field with Chetan Chauhan at the MCG. We were arrogant because we bowled Australia out for under a hundred.

We’re arrogant. Venkatesh Prasad was arrogant in 1996 in Bangalore, not because he stared down a Pakistani opener. He was arrogant because he’d just uprooted his off-stump.

No kidding, we’re arrogant. We were arrogant at Lords, and not because Ganguly screamed shirtless for the members in red and gold jackets. We were arrogant because two 20-year olds had just chased down 326 in your backyard. In the erstwhile home of cricket.

We’re not arrogant because we’re jerks. We’re not arrogant because we bought this place. We own this place. And we own it because we win.

Mr. Lawton, we’re arrogant, but we’re not tourists. Our arrogant king, Saurav Ganguly, and his wall-in-chief, Rahul Dravid, practically grew up here. Zaheer honed his skills here. Even Anil Kumble scored a century last time we were here. Hell yeah, we’re arrogant.

Finally, to the meat of your article– the specific case of arrogance through the rejection of ball-tracking. Let me offer up a quote I found:

The Indians say that the predictive capacity of Hawk-Eye is less than infallible and, scientifically and practically, they may have a point.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. You know who wrote that? You did, Mr. Lawton. In the same article.

We’ll be arrogant in England, Mr. Lawton. But it won’t be because we undermine umpires or reject technology. It will be because we win.


Indian Cricket

A Curry-Pizza-Curry-Pizza Diet

King Cricket, on the feast that awaits us:

For the next few weeks, we’re going to get Zaheer Khan one innings and then James Anderson the next. It’s like our metabolism has suddenly allowed us a curry-pizza-curry-pizza diet.

Both sides bat deep, but it’s the bowling that has me salivating as well.

Nine Years Since NatWest

Nine years ago, today. My favorite one-day of them all:

And at 146 for 5 chasing 326 for victory, with Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid all back in the pavilion, the contest was as good as over. But nobody, it seemed, had bothered to inform Mohammad Kaif and Yuvraj Singh (combined age 41).

This was the game that made me believe. Believe that a new era had, indeed, begun. That the ’90s were over. That India could chase. That India could bat deep. That India, who had never made a 300+ score until 1996 (after even Zimbabwe), could make it look easy.

That India could win.

Crickets Advertising Cricket

ECB has taken to painting crickets (the insect) to promote T20 cricket (the game). Liam Brickhill reports:

Following their photoshoot, the logoed crickets were re-released back into the wild outside the stadium of their representative team. The organisers of the stunt hope children and adults will find the brightly-coloured insects – presumably before any birds or insectivorous mammals spot them – and ultimately get behind their county.

Good luck, crickets. I’m sure being brightly-colored makes it easier to avoid cricket-eating creatures.


England Move in to an Era of Better Hair

English Cricket Enters an Era of Better Hair

While the world worries about a three captain strategy, what worried me even more was the unceremonious limited overs retirement of Andrew Strauss.

As an India fan, this has been especially perplexing. A few weeks ago, Strauss played the 2nd-most devastating knock of the World Cup, after Taylor’s decimation of Pakistan. And now he retires.

While his 2011 hasn’t been great, 2010 was the best year of his career. In 14 innings, he scored at an average of almost 58, a strike rate near 100 with two 100s and eight 50s. In 2010, he had more 50s, more 100s, more 4s, more 6s, a higher average, a higher strike rate and more runs than any other year in his career.

It’s not as though England are having a terrific ODI run, where they can afford to lose their top performer.

Alastair Cook is a fine batsman, made the cover of Wisden, has great hair and went to the right schools but– it’s been said a billion times– but why would you name an ODI captain who couldn’t even make the 15 of your World Cup squad? Pietersen, Broad and Shahzad were sent back home injured from the World Cup, and even then, Cook was not invited, which means effectively he is not in the top 18 picks for the England ODI team.

At least he won’t replace someone who actually deserved to be in the squad on cricketing merit. He’ll replacing the retiring Strauss.

Related articles

Yorkshire v. England

David Hopps on Yorkshire:

One of the oddities of English cricketing life is the underlying hostility felt towards the national team from a section of the Yorkshire cricket-loving public. The assumption is that supporting England is somehow not entirely wholesome, and is likely to be followed by other errors of life such as marrying someone from Kent and buying a four-bedroom detached in Tunbridge Wells.

Any guesses why:

  1. Yorkshire is my favorite county cricket team?
  2. Tunbridge Wells cricket ground has a mythical quality?
Hint: The answers to these questions had a batting partnership mentioned in this blog post.